Customer Rating On return from their adventure we ask customers: “On a scale of 0-10, with 10 being the highest, how likely is it that you would recommend Swoop to a friend or colleague?”
Rowena Lord's Trip Date:
1st Dec - 19th Jan 2019
Rowena Lord's Ship:Akademik Sergey Vavilov
Overall, how was your trip?
Highlights: kayaking through pack ice, cruising through ice through the Neumeyer Channel, evening light in Paradise Bay/Harbour. Also, for Stephen, the visit to Port Lockroy and penguin pebble-thieving. The expedition staff were never less than good, and sometimes brilliant.
In one sentence, what did you think of Antarctica? Did it live up to your expectations?
Awe-inspiring, and thought-provoking, seeing a landscape almost untouched by humans. Yes, it did live up to expectations.
Would you visit again?
How was the service that Swoop provided?
Really pleased to have booked with a specialist. we booked with Swoop in the first place because I came across your analysis and descriptions of ships online, and found it really useful. Voyage was a good one for us, and we really liked the ship, as we don't do 'cruisy'. We thought the ship and voyage would suit us, but useful to have some confirmation. Guidance on cabin location was really useful. Service prior to voyage was excellent.
How likely is it that you would recommend Swoop to a friend?
10 out of 10
If Swoop arranged some of your travel before/after your voyage. How did we do?
Our flight to the Falklands was delayed by a day because of strong winds in the Falklands. Lot of toing and froing as it was off, on, off etc. But that was because of the weather. The ship's operator did well to find accommodation for 90 people at a day's notice. Apart from that, everything went smoothly. Cabo de Hornos nothing special but fine. Tips and recommendations: - If you can afford the time and the money, it's worth considering an extra night at either end, at least if you are flying, and certainly for the return leg. We found a day off, just to decompress and get used to ordinary life again, really useful. Other people who were going on the next day were envious. And we might have been delayed on the way back, as we were on the way out. - Layers of clothing are really important, especially if on a zodiac trip when you can get really cold if you don't have enough layers on, or coming back in from a kayaking trip in a zodiac. Also important for hanging around at KGI. We were waiting for 3 hours and it was not particularly cold or windy, yet people were getting very cold. Take walking boots for the walk from the beach to the airstrip. It may be very muddy, and you need thick socks and soles. - Be prepared for the weather to change things - the schedule is very weather-dependent.On our trip, not only was our departure delayed, the Lemaire Channel was blocked by ice and because we lost a day on the way out we had lost 'slots' in various places so had to move on to avoid other ships. Worth bearing in mind that not all the days in Antarctica will be days with excursions. We were two days or nearly two days at sea from the Falklands, then had a day of excursions, then two days at sea in dash to the Circle and back. - Take seasickness pills, and get them prescribed, not over the counter. Worth taking advantage of the patches on offer on the ship, as well. We were not sick but some people were, even though the crossing was not that rough. - Some elements of the Vavilov experience are quite rough and ready, though effective. E.g. getting into the zodiacs from the gangway, getting into the kayaks from a zodiac, and the scrum in the mud room.
How were your experiences on the zodiac excursions and shore landings?
Sorry, see comments in earlier box as well. Kayaking is worth doing, and really changes the experience, being in the landscape rather than looking at it. But you do need some experience. We were glad we had made an effort to get some practice. Worth noting that both the single and double kayaks have rudders controlled with pedals. So, unlike some sea kayaks we've been in, it was quite easy to change direction, and no need to 'edge'. Lots of penguins, mainly Gentoo. No Adelies, as they have moved south due to warming. Penguins don't know about the 5m distance rule, and will approach you. Whales, particularly minkes, will come very close to kayaks especially, and also to zodiacs. Icebergs of every size and shape, from huge tabular ones, to bergy bits and growlers. And fantastic blues.
Has your experience changed your perspective in any way?
It has encouraged us both to be more active and get outside our respective comfort zones. Stephen is more of a sunshine and beach person than Rowena but is now keener to get explore and do things that may be rather more challenging and even uncomfortable, because the rewards are worth it. We are both better informed about climate change and more concerned about it. We are also concerned about the impact of potential tourism in Antarctica. At the moment there is, for instance, no litter or detritus. we would not want it to end up like Halong Bay.
Do you have any tips or advice for other people planning a trip to Antarctica?
See earlier boxes Big ones are: the itinerary will change, so go with the flow, and take lots of layers of clothing. As an aside, don't get talked into a penguin colony visit on a spare day in Punta Arenas. An Australian group on the ship had been talked into it by their travel agent, to do on their return from Antarctica (!!), where we had been tripping over penguins. It took 14 hours, mostly in a coach trip and a crossing of the Magellan Strait, they didn't get close to any penguins, and generally had a dreadful time. We don't know why they went at all, but mention it in case anyone else is tempted.
Anything else? Tell us anything you’d like to share that we forgot to ask! It’s ok to leave this empty too :-)
Stephen will try to send some more photos.